Cleaning Products Overview
Most people depend on conventional cleaning products to keep their homes clean and comfortable. They may be surprised to learn that the very products they have been using to keep their homes clean can be harmful to their health, pets and the environment. Several cleaning products contain toxic chemicals linked to health effects such as asthma, cancer, reproductive harm and liver, kidney and nervous system damage. In most cases, cleaning products containing harsh chemicals are not necessary to keep homes clean. Safer alternatives are readily available.
What can you do?
Reduce your exposure to harsh chemicals
- Effectively pick up dirt without the need for chemicals by using microfiber cloth to clean
- Open doors and windows to ventilate your home while cleaning
- Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin and wash your hands regularly when handling chemicals
- Avoid using antibacterial and antimicrobial soap
- Never mix two cleaners together, especially if the products contain ammonia or chlorine
Read labels first
Identify the least corrosive options by reading labels and packaging.
- Ammonia: can cause respiratory disease, liver and kidney toxicity, reproductive harm and central nervous disorders
- Chlorine bleach: can trigger asthma, can damage skin, eye and other membranes
- Quaternary ammonium disinfectants "Quats: can cause asthma, contact dermatitis
- 2-butoxyethanol: linked to liver and kidney toxicity, blood disorders, infertility and developmental harm
- Monoethanolamine: can trigger asthma, can cause tissue damage and shortness of breath
Avoid using products that claim to disinfect while also cleaning
- Disinfectants such as bleach and quaternary ammonium compounds contain pesticides and cause varying health impacts.
Use safer products
- Look up products at GoodGuide
- At home: try using homemade cleaners or products certified by third parties such as Green Seal, EcoLogo, or US EPA's Design for the Environment
- In an institutional setting: use products certified by third parties such as (SF Approved and Green Seal)
Minimize using several products
Choose all purpose cleaners, that have the benefit of cleaning several areas in one product. Separate products to clean windows, countertops, floors, bathrooms and kitchens are often unnecessary, increase potential hazards and are an added cost.
Use safe practices
Additional Information for Cleaning Products Overview
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.